Here the two lovely three-year-old Labradors are sitting so obediently while I take their photo! They are brother and sister, though you would never think so to look at them. It would be hard to find any problem with either dog had it not been for a couple of unfortunate incidents.
Archie, the Chocolate Labrador, is the more laid back of the two. Both are model dogs – most of the time. They have a wonderful life with a caring family and four lovely children. Belle’s personality is more ‘edgy’ and excitable than Archie’s. On two occasions she has attacked a puppy. When she meets another dog she will bark in a protective way whilst standing in front of her owners. Though the dogs are seldom walked on lead as they live in the countryside, Belle is also very nervous of many things if walked on lead on the street, lunging and barking.
The first troubling incident happened about a year ago. They met a lady with several dogs off lead on a walk. Because it looked as though Belle in particular was getting overwhelmed by a very pushy five-month-old puppy, my lady client, her friend and their dogs tried to turn the other way – but the other dogs followed them, ignoring their owner’s whistle. The puppy was jumping all over Belle still, and I believe that Belle was provoked and pestered beyond her endurance, and having repeatedly warned and been ignored she turned on the puppy. This resulted in quite an ugly exchange with the other owner and a vet bill, which really unnerved my poor client. Had the other dogs had the sort of reliable recall you need if you are responsibly going to let your dogs off lead and had Belle been less touchy, none of this would have happened.
The second incident was a week ago. Belle went for another puppy on their own land. Apparently she simply saw the puppy from a distance and came running over and attacked it, seemingly for no reason at all. Fortunately there was minimal damage and Belle was grabbed.
The outcome is that the poor lady can no longer trust her lovely dog. She has stopped walking them off her land, although her husband still does so but on lead. She has now attacked puppies twice and who knows what might happen next time.
Most walks consist of going straight out of a gate and into woods, off lead. The dogs tend to do their own thing, checking up on where the owners are from time to time. They freelance. The dogs’ default position when they are out should be near to their owners (leaders). At present it is the opposite. Whenever a dog appears, they should immediately come back when called, and then it’s the owners decision whether or not they go and play.
Hindsight is a wonderful thing, and one can see how both these incidents could have been prevented, the first by grabbing the lady’s puppy immediately and the second by not assuming she will appreciate dogs she doesn’t know in her territory. I suspect they were both one-off unfortunate incidents, but certainly over all leadership where Belle is concerned is essential so that she doesn’t carry the burden of protection duty.